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It Takes a Village: Mental Health Care and the Role of the Family . Jeffrey Rakofsky, MD Assistant Professor Emory University Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program. Dr. Jeffrey Rakofsky , Personal/Professional Financial Relationships with Industry.

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it takes a village mental health care and the role of the family

It Takes a Village: Mental Health Care and the Role of the Family

Jeffrey Rakofsky, MD

Assistant Professor

Emory University Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program


Dr. Jeffrey Rakofsky, Personal/Professional Financial Relationships with Industry

*Consulting, scientific advisory board, industry-sponsored CME, expert witness for company, FDA representative for company, publishing contract, etc.

**Does not include stock in publicly-traded companies in retirement funds and other pooled investment accounts managed by others.

today s agenda
Today’s Agenda:

I. Mental Health Care and the Role of the Family

II. Exciting Research Conducted by Department of Psychiatry faculty at Emory University

learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • To understand why families must get involved in the psychiatric care of their loved ones

2. To appreciate the different phases of illness and most appropriate behaviors from family members

3. To appreciate the dynamic nature of healthy family involvement throughout the different phases of a loved one’s illness

families must be involved
Families must be involved!
  • Psychiatric illness, unlike medical illness, affects judgment.
  • - Psychosis
  • - Depression
  • - Mania
  • - Addictions
families must be involved1
Families must be involved!
  • Staying well costs money and requires resources:
  • - Hospitalization
  • - Doctor’s appointments
  • - Medications
  • - Transportation
families must be involved2
Families must be involved!
  • Regardless of psychiatric illness, the fewer relapses that occur over time, the better a person will do over the long run…..
  • So, give your loved one the best chance of staying well by getting involved (appropriately)!
phases of care
Phases of Care:




before treatment
Before Treatment
  • Getting a loved-one to treatment
  • Historian

Family has 2 essential roles:

getting a loved one to treatment
Getting a loved-one to treatment



Doesn’t meet 1013 criteria

  • Meets 1013 criteria

1013 Criteria:

Has mental illness


Is an imminentthreat to self or others, OR

Is too disorganized to care for self

**At this point, firearms should be removed from the house.

involuntary options
  • Call the police (Crisis Intervention Team)
  • Call Georgia Crisis and Access Line (Mobile Assessment)
  • Get a court order

……Don’t be handcuffed by threats of suicide. Doing nothing could ultimately be worse…..

voluntary options
  • Talk to the loved-one
  • Don’t yell or argue or blame
  • Be empathic
  • Share your concerns (“I” statements)
  • Help your loved one identify his/her perceived barriers to getting mental health care
voluntary options1
  • Consider hiring an Interventionist
  • Consider “tough-love” approach
  • Can wait until rock-bottom, but don’t get pulled down too!
don t bring stigma home with you
Don’t bring stigma home with you
  • Stigma can be toxic and undermine your loved one’s recovery
  • Muster up the courage to talk to people you trust (e.g. clergy, your primary care doctor) and ask for help and resources.
know your options
Know your options!



Medical or psychiatric emergency rooms

  • Private practices
  • Day treatment hospitals
  • Medical or psychiatric emergency rooms
  • Be ready to provide clinicians with information about the loved-one:
  • - Behaviors
  • - Concerns
  • - Medical history
  • - Psychiatric history
  • - Medications
facilitating the process
Facilitating the process
  • Visit loved-one in the hospital
  • Provide transportation to outpatient appointments, pharmacy, phlebotomy clinic
  • Help with medication and outpatient visit co-pays
treatment adherence
Treatment adherence
  • Consider dispensing medication to loved one
  • Consider watching loved-one take medicine daily
  • Organize daily medicines in a 7-day pill box.
be vigilant
Be Vigilant!
  • Look out for signs of worsening symptoms
  • Look out for signs of adverse drug reactions
  • If present, first encourage loved-one to notify doctor
communications with therapist psychiatrist
Communications with therapist/psychiatrist
  • Call clinician with concerns/updates but don’t expect clinician to return your call or provide details of the loved-one’s care.
  • Do not expect the clinician to hold secrets for you about the loved one.
stop yelling
  • Reduced expressed emotion among families is linked to better outcomes for patients
  • Consider “Family-Focused Psychotherapy” to help improve communication skills between family members and improve attitudes about mental illness.
avoid avoidable stress
Avoid avoidable stress
  • Stress is a trigger for most psychiatric illnesses
  • Consider the effects on the loved-one of upcoming family events within or outside the home……reschedule!
shoulder the burden
Shoulder the burden…
  • Consider taking over some of the loved-one’s tasks around the house
  • May have to take on extra work to compensate for loved-one’s inability to work
  • Consider hiring a caretaker/housekeeper to help compensate
stay healthy
Stay Healthy!
  • Individual psychotherapy/NAMI support groups
  • Exercise
  • Take a break and engage in activities that you enjoy
  • Remind yourself that you’re not to blame for your loved one being ill or not healing quickly enough.
  • Keep an eye on the health of other family members as well
reduce vigilance
Reduce Vigilance
  • Too much for too long can be taxing for you and loved-one
  • Need to restore power-balance
  • The loved-one needs to learn self-monitoring
  • May develop naturally for you
support a return to work school
Support a return to work/school
  • The loved one (and their families) have to learn what patients can and can’t do by trial and error
  • Crucial for a patient’s self esteem and sense of competence
communications with therapists psychiatrists
Communications with therapists/psychiatrists
  • Time to stop!
  • Continuing may undermine the loved one’s recovery and jeopardize the doctor-patient relationship
model healthy behaviors
Model healthy behaviors
  • Avoid drinking/drug use in front of loved-one
  • Regularly attend your own doctor’s appointments
  • Keep regular sleep/wake cycle
loss of caretaker identity
Loss of caretaker identity
  • Monitor for your own emotional reactions
  • May be unconscious for some
  • Individual psychotherapy
beware of your resentments
Beware of your resentments
  • This is usually when they tend to emerge
  • Understandable given the disruption to your life/work/family but can be very toxic
  • Couple’s therapy/Individual therapy
stay healthy1
Stay Healthy!
  • So you’ll be emotionally and physically ready to respond if there’s a relapse
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Exercise
  • Thank yourself for your efforts and sacrifices to keep your loved-one safe and healthy
  • Families matter!
  • Stay healthy so you can endure the ups and downs
  • Phase-appropriate behavior from family members is key to the success of your loved one!
unlocking the mysteries behind the most severe mental illnesses
….Unlocking the mysteries behind the most severe mental illnesses!
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Specific phobias
  • Autism
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
our stats
Our Stats…..
  • The Emory University Department of Psychiatry has received $22 million in research funding for the first 11 months of the 2012-2013 fiscal year
  • Ranked # 19 among all (@120) psychiatry departments nationwide in NIH research funding
bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder

2 clinical trials using a sublingual form of


  • Is it better than placebo in the treatment of bipolar depression?
  • 2. Can it prevent new episodes of depression or mania better than a placebo?
major depression
Major Depression

4 clinical trials (neurostimulation):

  • Does Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) improve treatment-resistant depression?
  • 2) Does Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) improve depression?
  • 3) Does Rapid Low FrequencyMagnetic Stimulation (RLFMS) improve treatment-resistant depression?
  • 4) Does RepetativeTranscranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) improve depression?
major depression1
Major Depression

Biological study:

  • What markers of inflammation and hormonal changes are associated with major depression, sleep problems and cognition?
posttraumatic stress disorder
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

2 Clinical trials:

  • Is a medication that blocks the Cortisol-Releasing Hormone receptors in the brain better than placebo for women with PTSD?

Is a psychotherapy approach that involves skills training, affective regulation and narrative therapy better than treatment as usual for women with PTSD?

posttraumatic stress disorder1
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Biological study:

What genetic markers are associated with PTSD among patients living in inner-city Atlanta?

  • 5 year, $9.5 million grant to study Oxytocin:

1) What is the impact of oxytocin on brain activity, social perception and attunement on rhesus monkeys?

2) What is the impact of oxytocin on brain activity and social cognition in patients with Autism?

generalized anxiety disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Clinical trial:

  • Is 6 weeks of Swedish massage therapy better than light touch in the treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
  • 2) What changes in markers of inflammation and oxytocin occur as a result of massage therapy?
specific phobia
Specific phobia

Clinical trial:

  • 1) Is 8 weeks of prolonged exposure therapy using
  • virtual reality technology effective in reducing a fear of flying?

Does a genetic marker associated with learning and memory predict who will improve?

stress response
Stress response

Clinical trial:

Does 12 weeks of meditation training affect overall quality of life, and affect physiologic, hormonal and inflammatory markers of stress?

get involved
  • Help advance psychiatric research for you and for those who will come after you!
  • Consider a clinical trial or a biological study
  • ….but talk to your psychiatrist first!

A “win-win” situation


Call 404-727-MOOD (6663) or visit

for more information!